California is facing one of the most severe droughts on record, with three consecutive years of sub-normal rainfall and a snowpack that was 15% of normal. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought State of Emergency in January and individual local agencies followed suit.
California cities have different water sources, resulting in varying degrees of need between cities. Eighty percent of Pleasanton's water is delivered by the State Water Project through Zone 7 Water Agency. In April, the state announced a reduction in its potable water delivery by 75%, causing us to manage with three-quarters of the water allotment needed.
On May 6, the City Council voted to declare a Stage III Water Shortage, requiring a 25% reduction in water consumption.
Our community-wide reductions — including residents, businesses and city facilities — reflect a 37% decrease for June so far, and the 2014 year-to-date total reveals a 19.4% reduction. In the billing period of March 13 to May 13, city facilities and parks logged a 32.5 million-gallon reduction, or a 70% decrease over the same time in 2013.
This success is the result of working together — residents, businesses, the city and PUSD. To profile a few examples of these efforts, let's start with Jan Batcheller who called the city's Water Conservation Hotline to learn about her water usage. City staff came to Jan's home and explained sprinkler and scheduler adjustments. Then, Jan decided to remove her front lawn and install drought-tolerant landscaping. She loves her new yard.
David and Anne Stark had their front yard transformed with drought-tolerant landscaping and enjoy the reduced maintenance burden. "If we want to work in the garden, we do, but we don't have to mow and trim every week," David said.
Pleasanton businesses are very involved in the water conservation effort. Hacienda's James Paxson says the park has reduced its water use by over 35%. Hacienda's historic practice of weekly water meter reading helps meet this target.
Russ Trapani and Natalie Wong, owners of Sugarie Bake Shop, researched ways to conserve water and energy that resulted in utility cost savings. Their oven works at an 89% efficiency level, a tankless water heater instantly heats water to Health Department specs and their industrial dishwasher uses three-quarters of a gallon of water, compared to other commercial models using two gallons.
Thanks to all who are making changes to conserve our potable water supply. Please keep up the good work; we still have a long way to go. Learn more about water conservation; contact the city's Water Conservation Hotline at 931-5504 or www.pleasantonwaterconservation.com.
Editor's note: Jerry Thorne is completing his first two-year term as mayor of Pleasanton after serving seven years on the City Council. A retired corporate executive with more than 40 years in the private sector, he also served for 10 years on the city's Parks & Recreation Commission.